Central Texas residents, hold onto your wallets; several local mayors are fighting for free access to your money.

In a recent media editorial, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan pleaded to retain their power to freely take citizens’ money and lamented over state lawmakers’ efforts to hand any control back to citizens.

The specific issue Adler, Morgan, and other Texas mayors are bemoaning is a proposal to overhaul Texas’ property tax system and give citizens power to reject excessive tax hikes. The proposed law would work as follows: If a local government wanted to raise your taxes higher than 3.5 percent in a year, they would just have to ask you first.

That’s it.

The reform would give citizens more control over their own taxes, letting them decide what to do with their hard-earned cash. That reform is exactly what Adler and Morgan are adamantly trying to prevent.

“We—along with Bastrop Mayor Connie Schroeder, Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross, and Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzalez—want you to understand the impending crisis,” wrote the mayors. “We urge our legislators to protect public safety and other essential city services that are at risk under the proposals.”

How is public safety at risk if these mayors have to ask citizens first for more of their money? Great question.

Their commentary claims the new property tax reform “artificially and unnecessarily creates a crisis” that “would make it impossible for cities and counties to maintain existing services.” Mayor Adler has also said the reform “would be horrific for our city” and “would have a profound and significantly prejudicial and horrible impact on our city and how we operate and manage our city.”

Mayor Morgan, in a separate commentary, even threatened that the public could be endangered if he had to ask them for more of their money.

“Do you desire well-maintained streets, an adequate number of police officers and firefighters, and quality parks?” Morgan wrote. “The city may no longer be able to provide these services at a pace that keeps up with our vibrant, growing community if [the tax reforms] are passed as presented.”

In reality, Adler and Morgan can still raise taxes as much as they want, even if the reform passes. Again, they would simply have to ask you first.

But asking is the part Adler and Morgan don’t like. Current state law allows them to take up to 8 percent more of your cash each year without your permission, and they’ve taken advantage of that. The average Austin homeowner is now paying 80 percent more to the city than they did 10 years ago, while the average Round Rock homeowner is paying roughly $300 more per year to Morgan and the city than they did just five years ago.

Furthermore, Morgan’s claims of cutting police officers and firefighters are incredibly fallacious and deceptive. Adler and Morgan are in no desperate need of cash to pay police officers; just take a quick look at some examples of how the mayors are spending the money they already have.

Adler spent $450,000 on two public toilets, $115,000 to clean one toilet, a whopping $140 million on a flawed tunnel project, and literally gave away over $1 million to Austinites who sent the city an email asking for cash.

Morgan spent $5 million to renovate a golf course that only a fraction of city residents use and has handed over tens of millions in cash and special perks to hand-picked businesses of his choosing.

Yet, according to the mayors, if they have to ask citizens before taking more cash, they somehow won’t have any money for police officers.

If Central Texas residents want the Texas legislature to give them more control over their own hard-earned cash, they can make their voice heard by signing a petition below.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.

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